Monster Energy Cup Series News (13236)
All the prerace chatter about Pocono Raceway's three-turn configuration, the long straightaway or the much anticipated tunnel turn doesn't faze Regan Smith.
"This is NASCAR and we want to have challenging and unique tracks to race at; it would be pretty boring if all the venues where identical," said Smith, as he gets ready for Sunday's 5-Star Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
Smith, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, knows about challenging and unique race tracks. His victory on May 7 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway is considered one of the most challenging as it continues to live up to its moniker -- The Track Too Tough To Tame.
"I like the idea of going to a different-style track," stated Smith. "You have your favorites and there are some tracks that might not suit your style the best or that might wear on your psyche a little. But overall I like them all. A negative approach about a facility can only hinder your performance."
Although he has only competed in five-career races at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, Smith's main concern in not about the track, but finding more consistency with his No. 78 Furniture Row team.
"Pocono is where we need to start nailing down consistent finishes in our Furniture Row Chevrolet," said Smith. "Lately, it's been one good race, one bad race. You can't have that, we need to start stringing some good results together. The potential is there, but we need to avoid mistakes and mechanical issues."
After his win at Darlington, Smith's next race at Dover produced a 34th-place finish due to a broken track bar mount. He came back strong at Charlotte, finishing eighth. But slipped last week in Kansas with a 24th-place result.
"If we can have an error-free race I feel we can come out of Pocono with a strong finish," noted Smith. "We were decent there last year, and after only five career races at Pocono I am understanding the tunnel turn and the configuration of the track much better."
Last year in his fourth and fifth career starts at Pocono, Smith posted finishes of 18th and 21st.
Furniture Row Racing PR
School teachers and officials across the country are finishing their academic year and are preparing for a well-deserved summer break. As driver of the No. 51 Thank a Teacher Today Chevrolet, Landon Cassill is hoping to honor teachers across the country for all of their hard work with a good run in this weekend's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Cassill's performance at Kansas Speedway was marred by an accident on Lap 120. He was forced behind the wall for repairs and had to settle for a 35th-place finish. He aims to get back on track this weekend at the track they call the Tricky Triangle.
Cassill has two prior starts at Pocono Raceway, one in the Sprint Cup Series and one in the ARCA Series. This week's event will mark Cassill's second Sprint Cup Series start with Phoenix Racing at Pocono Raceway.
Cassill Comments on the Pocono 500:
"Schools all across the country are starting to get out for the summer now. I think many of them have already ended or are in their final weeks. Right now, it just seems to be an appropriate time for our Thank a Teacher Today Chevrolet with its message. Teachers have invested so much in this school year and deserve a pat on the back. We can't thank them enough for all of their hours and hard work that they pour into their students, but hopefully our car will be a nice tribute and remind everyone to tell a teacher 'thank you' for all they do. Hopefully we'll give them a good run.
"Pocono is exactly what it's nickname states, it's a 'tricky triangle.' I've only had a couple of races there, but it didn't' take long to realize that this place is just different. Each time was a learning experience. It's definitely a track that you use a 'give and take' setup. There's no way that you can have a perfect-handling car all the way around the race track. The turns are each unique and can't be treated the same. You have to drive each corner differently as well. No turn has the same marks for braking or accelerating. It's a track that takes total concentration and focus for sure. There's no cruise control at Pocono.
"We had a tough race last week at Kansas. We got a lap down early, but started picking up the pace after we made some adjustments. We got our lap back and were running pretty well. I ended up getting pushed into the wall and that killed our day. We just need some luck and we'll have some good finishes come our way. Pocono is a good opportunity for us to get back on track and get some positive momentum going."
Phoenix Racing PR
Penske Racing’s No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team directed by crew chief Paul Wolfe and driver Brad Keselowski played the skillful fuel-saving game and provided Dodge its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the 2011 season, and helped the Penske team capture three contingency awards Sunday at the Inaugural STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Wolfe captured the Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race Award, which goes to the crew chief that improves the most from the first half to the second half of the race utilizing the 40 best lap times.
While Keselowski managed to save enough fuel to make it to the finish line by more than two seconds over runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr., it was teammate Kurt Busch in the No. 22 AAA Dodge that started the weekend on the Coors Light Pole and led 152 laps on the day. Penske Engines also captured the MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award for powering the efforts of Busch’s No. 22 Dodge.
The awards are part of the NASCAR Prize Money and Decal Program, also referred to as the contingency program, which provides teams prize money and weekly awards based on performance in several categories.
“It was a team victory today,” said Keselowski. “We had Kurt Busch, my teammate, who led the majority of the race from what I could see, and had good speed and the 2 car had great speed as well. We just kind of caught a bad break on qualifying when we went out. But it's a team effort. Kurt had him covered on speed. We had him covered on strategy and together one of us was going to win. And I'm proud in general that it was a Penske car that won.”
Keselowski took the lead with just nine laps to go which makes this the sixth time in 11 years that the winner of the race at Kansas didn’t lead until the second half of the race.
“Well, it's great to see Dodge back in the [Victory Lane],” said team owner Roger Penske. “[Keselowski and Wolfe] are talking all the time. They’re working, there's nobody more committed. The good news is to hear Kurt say … it was great for the team. We finally think we have a combination that we can run on the mile and a halfs (Kansas is a 1.5-mile track), because we struggle on the mile and a halfs.”
The win puts Keselowski in 21st place in the standings as Roush Fenway’s Carl Edwards retains his lead, by 40 points over Jimmie Johnson heading into Sunday’s 5-Hour ENERGY 500 at Pocono Raceway (1 p.m. ET, TNT).
Official winners of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Prize Money & Decal Program special awards include:
· AMERICAN ETHANOL GREEN FLAG RESTART: Tony Stewart
· COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD:Kurt Busch (174.752 mph. 30.901 secs.)
· DIRECTV CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE AWARD: Bob Osborne (crew chief for Carl Edwards)
· GOODYEAR GATORBACK BELTS FASTEST LAP AWARD: Kyle Busch (167.587 mph, Lap 2)
· MAHLE CLEVITE ENGINE BUILDER OF THE RACE AWARD: Penske Engines, No. 22
· MOBIL 1 OIL DRIVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Tony Stewart
· MOOG CHASSIS PARTS PROBLEM SOLVER OF THE RACE AWARD: Paul Wolfe (crew chief for Brad Keselowski, -0.025 secs.)
· O’REILLY AUTO PARTS POSITION IMPROVEMENT AWARD: Matt Kenseth (15 places)
· SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Andy Lally
Richard Childress Racing and Okuma America Corporation, the U.S.-based affiliate of Okuma Corporation, a world leader in the development of computer numeric controls (CNC) and machining technology, have extended their partnership through 2017.
The RCR/Okuma partnership began in 2000. RCR's No. 29 Chevrolet with driver Kevin Harvick will carry the Okuma logos in the primary sponsor positions for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. It will mark the first time Okuma has been the primary sponsor of an RCR car in Sprint Cup Series competition.
"The Okuma/RCR relationship has been mutually beneficial and we are excited to continue it," said Jim King, President and Chief Operating Officer, Okuma America Corporation. "We've been able to provide cutting-edge technology to a leader in the motorsports industry and learn more about our machines and how we can improve manufacturing across all industries. Using the Okuma Technology Center at RCR to show our machines in action provides us with expanded opportunities to build and enhance customer relationships. We feel winners partner with winners and we are proud to contribute to Richard Childress Racing's success."
The RCR and Okuma partnership has grown significantly over more than a decade. From four Okuma machines and five employees that first year, the RCR Okuma Technology Center is now a 17,000 square foot facility, housing 12 Okuma machines and employing 15 technicians, engineers and management staff.
The RCR OTC manufactures more than 3,000 different race parts with a total output in 2011 forecast to reach nearly 100,000 units. RCR and Okuma have worked together to specially design and develop CNC machinery to produce intake manifolds, cylinder heads and camshafts.
"The partnership between Okuma and RCR has been an integral part of RCR's success over the years," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "The competitive nature of our sport dictates that we produce more and more quality, dependable race parts on our own premises. It's one of the key factors in providing a competitive advantage for both RCR and ECR Engines. The Okuma Technology Center is also the perfect facility for Okuma to showcase its products in a high performance, real-world setting."
It’s very rare that Kyle Busch leaves a racetrack pleased with a second-place finish.
But, that’s exactly what happened to Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), following last June’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
In fact, not only did the Las Vegas native bring home his best Pocono last June, he also started from the pole – his first at Pocono – and was beaten across the finish line only by teammate and Pocono master Denny Hamlin, who has four wins and seven career top-five finishes to his credit there.
By simply taking a look at the talented 26-year-old’s record at the 2.5-mile triangle, it’s easy to figure out why the runner-up finish was a satisfying day for the winner of 97 overall races among NASCAR’s top three series’. Busch had made it no secret that Pocono has given him fits, as he has only three top-10 finishes in 12 previous starts there, along with six finishes of 22nd-place or worse.
But even more satisfying for the Las Vegas native to would be to score his first career NASCAR victory at Pocono. Of the 29 tracks that will host NASCAR’s top three divisions in 2011, Busch has competed at every circuit but one (Elkhart Lake, Wis.) and has won at 24 of them. There are only three current Sprint Cup venues – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Pocono, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway – where Busch has not scored a victory in any of NASCAR’s top three series’ and he’d certainly like nothing more than to cross another track off the list this weekend.
So as the series heads back to the Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 500, Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers, and the entire M&M’s team will look to take the very same approach that yielded a second-place finish one year ago, but finally reach Pocono victory lane for the first time.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
How proud were you of the second-place finish in Pocono last June, given your previous record there?
“Really proud. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and my guys gave me a great racecar. Our M&M’s Camry was good. We kept messing with it all day, trying to make it a little bit better. I think it’s just the driver here who can make up so much with lap time. Denny (Hamlin, teammate) has that place figured out. I did the best I could. If you were grading me, I went from about an F at knowing how to get around here to about an A, and an A didn’t get it done with Denny being so good there. But I was very satisfied with how we ran there, knowing how tough it’s been for me there in the past.”
Pocono is the most unique track on the circuit with three distinct corners. What’s the most difficult part of the track for you?
“The hardest part of the track, for me, is probably turn one, and then turn two is the second-hardest, and then turn three is the third-hardest. Turn three, last year, because of the patch they laid down. We couldn’t go down low and get underneath somebody and get a run on them because, when you come off the corner, you’re 8 to 10 mph slower than the guy on your outside, and they’re just going to blow right by you going down the straightaway.”
Since the track is unique, where is the best place to make a pass at Pocono?
“Most of your passing is going to be done probably through turn one and off of turn one and getting into turn two, if somebody can get a good run off of turn two, get back up high and get in line to get on that patch getting into turn three. Besides that, in turn one, we just can’t get the cars to turn down there because there’s so much load on the bump stops from going 210 mph down the front straightaway and then trying to slow it down to about a ‘buck-40’ (140). Turn two is kind of bumpy and kind of rough. There are different areas where you’ve got to maneuver through the tunnel turn to get your car right. If you miss it just by a little bit, you tend to knock the wall down off the corner, so it’s tight.”
Do you have to change your approach late in a race with what happened at the end of the race in Charlotte and some of these long green flag runs at the end of races like we saw this past weekend?
“No. Everything in this sport is circumstantial anyway. If there’s a caution, there’s a caution. If there’s no caution, you just keep racing. From what I understand, I wasn’t there and I didn’t see it -- there was a bunch up on the restart at Charlotte and there were a few cars that kind of got banged up and one spun or something like that and they didn’t throw a caution. From what I understand, all of the cars kept rolling. They never really stopped. They didn’t hit anything. There wasn’t a big wreck or nothing like that. To me, I thought NASCAR did fine in what they did. Last weekend, there are times you end up having a long green flag run at the end, sometimes you come out on the good side, and sometimes you don’t. It’s all circumstance.”
Are you safely in the Chase now with two wins?
“Not really. There are an awful lot of good guys that are scattered through 11th to 20th. There are a few good teams that are there, and you don’t know. They can rattle off some wins right in a row -- for instance, I think Juan (Pabo Montoya) is one of those guys. He can win Sonoma and win Watkins Glen and boom, there’s a guy that’s already seated himself. He could even win at an oval-type track. I know Kansas -- I think -- has been good for him and Chicago has been good for him, even though Chicago is the first Chase race. These are those typical race tracks. (David) Reutimann -- same thing. Reutimann can really rattle off a win here. He won Chicago and he won Charlotte so he knows how to do these places. Keselowski getting his first win last weekend is an example of that too. Like I said, because of the good cars that are in 11th through 20th in points, it won’t be surprising to see a few of those guys get some wins.”
How many wins do driver’s need to be secure in the Chase?
“I think two (wins) is okay, three is safe. Yeah, that’s what I said before. I said three is definitely going to be safe and four is going to be safe.”
TSC/Kyle Busch PR
The Greg Biffle Foundation recently donated nearly $10,000 to two animal shelters assisting with the animal rescue efforts caused by the devastation from recent tornados. Recipients of the disaster relief grants were the Animal Advocates of Moore County and the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter.
The financial contributions to these groups will afford them aid for the animals in need. Both organizations are rescuing pets that have become homeless or displaced, providing emergency vet care, offering pet food and supplies and providing foster homes until families are able to collect their pets.
Animal Advocates of Moore County, located in Pinehurst, NC, is assisting with the animals in Lee and Sanford counties. They are in need of monetary donations and supplies such as 10x10 chain link kennels, dog houses, collars, leashes and much more. If you can assist with any donation, please contact Maureen Hornasky at 910-295-7587.
The Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter, located in Tuscaloosa, AL, is assisting with the intake of animals found homeless or injured from the tornado. They are providing vet care, orthopedic surgeries, basic medial needs and much more for the animals brought into their care. If you are interested in helping them, please contact Judy Hill at 205-349-9438.
“We are very happy to be able to make donations to these organizations that are tirelessly working on aiding these animals,” said Nicole Biffle. ”Greg and I are very saddened by the hundreds of animals displaced and hurt; we hope these donations can offer some relief in their efforts.”
The Greg Biffle Foundation was founded in 2005 by Greg and Nicole Biffle to create awareness and serve as an advocate to improve the well-being of animals by engaging the power and passion of the motor sports industry. Since its creation, the Foundation has awarded grants to more than 400 humane societies and animal shelters from coast to coast. Representing the best interests of the animals and using the full potential of each participant's involvement is the purpose for the Greg Biffle Foundation.
Greg and Nicole have three dogs – Foster and his daughter, Gracie, a pair of Boxers who are very familiar to race fans across the country. Foster even graced the front of a Milk Bones box in 2004. The latest addition is Savannah, who was rescued from a Georgia shelter.
Financial support for the foundation comes from a variety of sources including individual contributions, NASCAR Pets Calendars, and the sale of various racing and other sports memorabilia. For more information on the Greg Biffle Foundation go to www.gregbifflefoundation.com.
Roush Fenway Racing PR
David Gilliland's opinion of Pocono Raceway has changed over the years. So has his approach to racing there. The driver of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford previously didn't care for the 2.5-mile tri-oval in Long Pond, Pa., but now says he enjoys the venue, where he'll race in Sunday's 5-Hour ENERGY 500. He has also changed his focus on how to attack the low-banked track known as the "Tricky Triangle," concentrating on mastering Turn 3, which is the flattest of the three corners.
Gilliland has been fast in the past at Pocono, qualifying third for the Sprint Cup Series race in 2008. In his eight starts at the tri-oval, his best finish is 16th.
Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Gilliland on Pocono:
"I like Pocono now. I admit I didn't always feel that way. It's different, it's got three unique corners that all react differently with the racecar. The first couple times I went there, I attacked it like any other racetrack I went to. I started working on the car and getting it to turn in the first corner you come to, which is Turn 1. And I came to learn that that's the complete opposite of what you want to do in Pocono.
"We've learned a lot there. I think my best qualifying spot there was in the top-five. So, we've had good speed there, we just have to get our car working well in Turn 3, and that's going to be our primary focus. I feel like we've learned some things earlier in the year that we'll be able to take to Pocono.
"It's been a learning experience for our team with these new cars that we have. It's almost like we had to start over after everything we learned last year because we got a whole new fleet of cars for this year that are so different. But we've taken some really good strides lately and hopefully we'll be able to take some of that knowledge and apply it at Pocono.
"Last week at Kansas, we were terrible off the truck. But Peter (Sospenzo) and the guys made some good changes to the car and had our Taco Bell Ford Fusion running pretty well during the race. Obviously we would prefer to bring a good car to the track to begin with and get a better qualifying run out of it, but the fact that we can adapt and come up with something decent while we're there is still good progress. Sometimes you really don't have a track figured out with a particular car until you're there and running around it for a couple days.
"Pocono isn't just a cool track, but the whole area around the Poconos is a neat place. It's really quiet and peaceful. It kind of makes you slow down and relax and enjoy the surroundings, so it's always a cool place to visit."
Front Row Motorsports PR
Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 13 Safe Auto/Curb Records/Carrier Chevrolet Silverado, makes his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Texas Motor Speedway for ThorSport Racing Friday, June 10th. The Series points leader after a successful second place finish last weekend in Kansas, Sauter is ready to return to the track where he narrowly missed wins twice in 2010. Out of four starts for TSR since 2009, the driver has finished no worse than sixth position - safely saying that the track is a comfortable place for the driver.
"Texas is a great track for me. It's all about track position there, and you don't want to work up from the middle of the field. We've always run up front there. The goal with my crew chief, Joe Shear, Jr, is to run up front from the get go. I'm hoping to build on the finishes we had there last year for sure - twice we finished in second, and we had the truck to win. I'm pretty motivated to get to Texas right now." Sam Hornish Jr. will make his 2011 return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway this weekend, manning the wheel of the No. 38 Long John Silver's Ford while Travis Kvapil competes in the Camping World Truck Series in Texas. The three-time IndyCar Champion has 108 Cup races under his belt since making the move to stock-car racing, but this weekend's event in Long Pond, Pa., will be his first this year.
The 2.5-mile track known as the "Tricky Triangle" is the perfect place for Hornish to make his return. The low-banked, sharp-turning tri-oval suits the former open-wheel racer. He has a top-five, two top-10 and four top-15 finishes in his six Cup career starts there. Hornish is also familiar with No. 38 crew chief Jay Guy, whom he was a co-worker with at Penske Racing in Sprint Cup.
Comments from Long John Silver's driver Sam Hornish on Pocono and driving for Front Row:
"I'm really excited to get back in a Cup car. And it's not just an opportunity to run a Cup race, but I get to race at Pocono. That's a track that a lot of drivers don't like and it puts them in a bad mood trying to figure it out. And that actually can pay dividends for me because I like racing there and I go there with confidence. I've run well there the past two years with four top-15 finishes.
"I got a call from Penske asking if I was interested in running the '38' while Travis was racing trucks, and I was on the phone with Front Row about half an hour later working it all out. It came together pretty fast but I was excited to do it.
"It's going to be a little difficult, obviously, because there's not a lot of time to work together to prepare. Pocono is hot and it's 500 miles, so it can be pretty uncomfortable over the course of the race, so it's important to have a good fit in the car. I was at the Front Row shop last week and again Monday working on getting fitted. And I've been spending some time with Jay Guy, going over the set-up of the car, so we have a good game plan going in.
"I knew Jay from when he was at Penske, but I didn't work directly with him. But I'm looking forward to working with him this week. As challenging as it's going to be coming in for one race with a team I haven't worked with before, it's refreshing at the same time. I've only raced a stock car with Penske, so it will be good to try something different and get that experience."
Sauter's momentum still has competitors in his sights. "We've got a lot of talent this year in our Series, and we're just now hitting the summer, when all the action really starts to happen. You've got rookies like Whitt who are doing well, but there's always Bodine, Hornaday and my teammate Matt Crafton, who run really well in Texas and are good at these 1.5 mile tracks. It's an all-star lineup, so we've got to be 150% perfect and execute on pit road and with the setups. If we can do that, we have a shot at Victory Lane."
The No. 13 team will have a chance to become honorary "cowboys" on a special VIP tour with their teammates on the No. 88 Menards Chevy team at Cowboys Stadium on Friday morning. They will get an inside look from the Dallas Cowboys management team at the operations, locker room and get to "pull the Heisman" on the playing field. "I know the guys are excited to get on the field, we're all a bunch of sports junkies," said Sauter. "Every race city we go to, we're either at a ballpark the day before the race, a basketball court or a football field. Just depends on the season! This is a great opportunity to take a look at what the Cowboys do every day."
"We're also hosting Kyle Mohan from Kyle Mohan Racing on Friday - the guys are all going to learn how to Ultimate Drift. It's really awesome that all these different types of racers will be at Texas Motor Speedway. IndyCar, Drifters and NASCAR. That's great for the fans." ThorSport Racing will also take part in a "TweetUp" with IndyCar team Andretti Autosport on Friday for crossover fans.
Sauter has one win under his belt this season, at Martinsville, making him the only non-Sprint Cup driver to win in the Truck series to date.
Front Row Motorsports PR
TNT and NASCAR.COM are set to wave the green flag on the network’s 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series coverage debuting on Sunday, June 12 at Pocono Raceway with enhanced features and more interactivity on television and online to provide fans with the most comprehensive multi-platform NASCAR experience possible. This year, TNT RaceBuddy on NASCAR.COM will return with twice as many camera views as last year including two mosaics for fans to choose from. Also, the network will debut Inside Trax, offering fans exclusive audio and video from select crew chiefs and their teams each race. Wide Open Coverage returns for TNT’s marquee primetime race in Daytona on Saturday, July 2 and will feature the first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway in primetime on Saturday, July 9.
TNT RaceBuddy on NASCAR.COM returns to provide live companion coverage online with an expanded application. This season, fans can choose from a total of ten camera views, twice as many as last year, including two Mosaics. Eight individual camera angles include four In-Car Driver Cams, up from one cam last year, two Battle Cams highlighting head-to-head competition between drivers, a Backstretch Cam and a Pit Road Cam. The two Mosaic Views allow fans to view four streams at once. Returning features to the site include the DVR Function, an Enhanced LIVE Leaderboard and RaceView’s position tracker: Fans can also connect throughout the race on Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo! Messenger and MySpace in a seamlessly integrated social media experience
Turner Sports’ coverage of NASCAR will debut innovative new linear and digital features that will bring fans all the exciting action at the track, including:
- Inside Trax: TNT will mic-up select crew chiefs and their teams throughout the Summer Series providing fans with inside access to the sounds and strategy of NASCAR.
- Live online video chats on NASCAR.COM: For the first time this year, TNT NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty and Rutledge Wood’s ongoing live video chat series “30 Minutes You Will Never Get Back” will invite TNT announcers to answer questions from the fans. Each Friday, fans can submit questions via Twitter or Facebook to have their questions answered on the show. TNT NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds will join Petty and Wood on June 10 in Pocono.
TNT returns its marquee announcer crew with analysts Petty and Wally Dallenbach joining play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander in the booth for each race. Veteran reporters Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider and Matt Yocum will be joined by Chris Neville, a ten-year veteran motorsports reporter, on pit road. In addition, Lindsay Czarniak will once again host the network’s 60-minute pre-race show, Countdown to Green delivered by Pizza Hut, with Petty and McReynolds joining her on the TNT rig along with special guests each week.
“In our 28th consecutive year of televising NASCAR’s premier series, we are looking forward to enhancing the viewers’ experience through our unrivaled portfolio of linear and digital assets,” said Jeff Behnke, Turner Sports executive producer. “With our six races featuring the increased audio presence of Inside Trax and the continued growth of RaceBuddy, we are committed to bringing NASCAR fans in-depth coverage of the sport they love.”
The green flag will drop on TNT’s coverage beginning June 12th in Pocono, followed by six consecutive weeks of exclusive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series coverage with races in Michigan (June 19), Sonoma (June 26) and Loudon (July 27), and primetime Saturday night races in Daytona (July 2) and the first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky(July 9). Also featured throughout the six race series:
- Pride of NASCAR: The popular series celebrating NASCAR’s rich history will return for its 10th year with in-depth profiles of six racing legends. This year’s series launches in Pocono with a feature on the late legendary crew chief Harry Hyde and also feature A.J. Foyt, Barney Hall and Rex White.
- TNT Off-Track Robotic Car (TORC) presented by Toyota:McReynoldsbreaks down pit crew car strategies and provides a unique look inside the engine of a custom-built race car.
- NASCAR.COM Post-Race Show: Hosted by Czarniak and featuring all of TNT’s announcers, the exclusive online post-race show will wrap up all the day’s action with highlights and special interviews.
- TNT Million Dollar Fan Challenge:A weekly event on NASCAR.COM that gives fans the opportunity to win up to $1 million each week of TNT’s coverage by selecting in precise order the drivers they think will be the top-10 finishers in each race, with the opportunity to adjust their line-up through 25% of the race.
- NASCAR.COM Ultimate Tailgating Vehicle: The UTV, sponsored by Coors Light and featured on NASCAR.COM, will be on-site and shown on TNT telecasts during the Summer Series package.
TNT’s marquee primetime race in Daytona with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona powered by Coca-Cola will feature the return of Wide Open Coverage in which the network provides continuous race coverage free of national commercial breaks and features more unobstructed race action than that of a standard telecast by using a letterbox widescreen format. In place of the national ads, the telecast features a variety of animated sponsor messages, unique branded content and distinct on-screen graphic elements. Over the past four years, TNT’s Wide Open coverage has only missed 9 total laps of green flag racing including zero laps missed over the past two years.
When Cale Yarborough won the Volunteer 500 Aug. 26, 1978 at Bristol Motor Speedway, he certainly was happy, but there was one thing about that particular victory that made it a little different than the seven others that came before it.
This time, Yarborough was making history. While it was his eighth win at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, when he took the checkered flag some 16 seconds in front of Benny Parsons, he did something never before achieved at Bristol -- win a race under the lights.
That August race 33 years ago was the first BMS race contested at night. But for Yarborough, the historical part of the evening was lost on him at that moment.
“I was just happy to win another race at Bristol,” said the three-time NASCAR champion. “And I don’t guess I even really thought too much about it being the first race at night there. I was just glad I’d been able to get me another one at that place.
“It did put me back in the old racing days though, when we used to race everything at night. When we heard Bristol was getting lights all of us were happy about it. Night racing at Bristol was the way to go because it made it a lot cooler. Racing at night just made it better for all of us.”
While the lights that were erected for that race were far from the specially designed and innovative systems used today, Yarborough said they were pretty advanced for that time.
“Those lights were wonderful,” he said. “I know compared to what they have today they might not hold up, but for guys who cut their teeth racing at night in nothing better than street lights most of the time, we thought those lights were top-notch.”
Yarborough snagged two of his nine race wins at BMS at night, including his final one in the summer of 1980. He says even back in his heyday, the night races were the way to go at Bristol.
“They raced at Nashville at night, but when Bristol started doing it in the summer, that was by far the thing that brought the people out. Even back then, that night race was the one everybody wanted to come to.
“That night race was something special back in ’78 but now, well, everybody knows how people love that August race in Bristol. And let me tell you, winning at Bristol is special… that’s something I know a lot about… but winning that night race, that’s something that you never forget. There’s just something special about knowing you beat everybody with all those people watching at a place as tough as ol’ Bristol.
“Even these guys today... that race means something big to them. Winning at Bristol at night just puts you in a special class.”
Darrell Waltrip’s 12 wins -- including seven in a row -- at Bristol Motor Speedway, are marks other driver has matched. He also won more night races, seven, than any other driver. Next in line are Dale Earnhardt with four wins and Rusty Wallace with three under the lights.
Had Bristol’s summer race been moved to night earlier in the decade of the 70s, Yarborough would have finished with five, instead of two. He maintains that the sport’s elite drivers performed at the top of their game at Bristol because they had a special affinity for the track.
“Shoot, I love that place and it liked me,” said Yarborough. “Same goes with Waltrip and Earnhardt. We all knew how to get around it in the daylight and at night and I’ll guarantee you both of them loved that night race just as much as I did.
“Like I said, racing at Bristol at night just made it an even more special place to win. I’m proud of the races I won there because I know how tough they were to win. And it ain’t no different today. Still a tough old place and these guys today… when they win, they know it’s worth something.”
Pocono Raceway announced that Jason Lee, star of TNT’s MEMPHIS BEAT, has been named Grand Marshal for the 5-hour ENERGY 500 at Pocono Raceway on June 12, 2011. Lee, who stars as Memphis police detective Dwight Hendricks, will participate in pre-race activities, which includes giving the command for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers to start their engines.
MEMPHIS BEAT centers on Hendricks, a detective who considers himself the keeper of Memphis. He inherited a passion for music and an instinct for solving crimes from his father, an officer who was killed in the line of duty when Dwight was a young boy. Dwight sees his hometown of Memphis as a rich, magical place. He is an outstanding detective with a laid-back, easygoing style and an incredible, radar-like intuition about what people are thinking or feeling.
MEMPHIS BEAT is slated to launch its second season Tuesday, June 14, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT). In the second-season opener of MEMPHIS BEAT, the squad will be plunged into a case involving the death of an admired police officer who may have been involved with a white supremacist group. The case hits home for Dwight, who relates to the young son the officer left behind.
With a flourishing career that includes an Independent Spirit Award for his performance in writer-director Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy and memorable roles in multiple features for such directors as Smith, Cameron Crowe and Lawrence Kasdan, Lee has solidly established himself among critics, directors and peers.
For four seasons, Lee starred in and produced the half-hour NBC comedy series My Name is Earl, about a hapless crook who has an epiphany after winning a small fortune in the lottery. He earned two Golden GlobeÒ nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG AwardsÒ) nominations for his performance.
Born and raised in Huntington Beach, Calif., Lee turned a childhood pastime of skateboarding into a professional career. After moving to Los Angeles during his early 20s, however, he began developing an interest in acting. His big break came in 1995 with the lead role in Smith's Mallrats. He went on to star in Smith's Chasing Amy, for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for best supporting male for his role. He re-teamed with Smith on Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II.
Lee is a professional photographer as well as an avid supporter and collector of the arts. He is also actively involved with his skateboard company, Stereo Sound Agency, which recently celebrated its 15 year anniversary.
Pocono Raceway PR